Physical and mental health impacts of household gardens in an urban slum in Lima, Peru
Korn, Abigail Kim-Soo
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Background: Rural poverty and lack of access to education has led to urban migration and fed the constant growth of urban slums on the outskirts of Lima, Peru. These informal settlements suffer from public access to water and sanitation, informal land rights, food and water insecurity, all of which contribute to poorer health outcomes. We explored the feasibility of implementing household gardens using participatory design methods and examined the impact of increased green space on wellbeing. Methods: Between September 2013 and September 2014, we conducted a repeated measures longitudinal study with 29 community members in an informal settlement of 82 households in Lima, Peru. We assessed changes in physical and mental health after participatory design and construction of household gardens. Anthropometric data and a composite of five validated mental health surveys were collected at baseline, 6-months, and 12-months after garden construction. Results: Twelve months after garden construction, we found significant increases from baseline in all domains of quality of life—physical (p<0.01), psychological (p=0.05), social (p=0.02), and environmental (p=0.02)—in overall social capital (p<0.01), and perceived stress (p<0.01). Life threatening experiences decreased compared to baseline significantly (p=0.02). There were no significant changes in parent or partner empathy (p=0.21), BMI (p=0.95), waist circumference (p=0.18), or blood pressure (p=0.66) at 6 or 12 months. Fasting blood glucose increased at 6-months (p=0.04), but this change was not maintained at 12-months (p=0.59). Conclusions: Improved access to green space in the form of a household garden can significantly improve mental health in a slum setting.
- Global health